cover image Walkaway


Cory Doctorow. Tor, $26.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7653-9276-3

Doctorow (Homeland) expects more patience for superfluous eccentricities than many readers may be able to provide in this unengaging novel set in 2071. For example, his opening sentence begins with the name of a character ultimately referred to as Hubert, Etc., whose full name is 22 names long because his parents decided, for no logical reason, to give him as his middle names the “top twenty names from the 1890 census.” There’s also awkward prose (“The beer was where the most insouciant adolescents congregated, merry and weird as tropical fishes”), odd phrases that sound clunky rather than plausibly futuristic (“authoritarian enclobberments”), and goofy aliases (Gizmo von Puddleducks, Zombie McDingleberry). Collectively, these authorial indulgences—along with underdeveloped world building and unmemorable characters— serve mainly to distance readers from his creative premise: a near-future where the rich are on the verge of achieving immortality, a development that one character fears spells the “end of morality,” and rebels, known as walkaways, attempt to create a functioning gift economy. (Apr.)